What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
My response has more to do with how we work but is certainly connected to what we publish—and I hope it will become a trend. In January, we announced our partnership in a four-year, $682,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that aims to diversify academic publishing by funding a formal apprenticeship program. Together with the University of Washington Press, the MIT Press, Duke University Press, and the Association of American University Presses, we are recruiting our first class of four fellows, who will bring their significant experience and engagement with diverse communities to the daily work of scholarly publishing. The University Press Diversity Fellowship Program is the first cross-press initiative of its kind in the United States to address the marked lack of diversity that characterizes the publishing industry. Although university presses have long fostered and supported diversity-related fields such as Native and Indigenous studies; African-American studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and Asian-American studies, the fellowship program represents a significant investment in creating career-development opportunities and a supportive environment for diversity publishing.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
While monographs in the humanities and social sciences remain at the core of our enterprise, we are also looking for strong, smart, creative nonfiction, particularly for our Crux Series in Creative Nonfiction, which includes the memoirs My Unsentimental Education by Debra Monroe and Ladies Night at the Dreamland by Sonja Livingston. We also want accessible narratives that are well-grounded in history, natural sciences, the environment, food and foodways, and public affairs. Titles like Lens of War (edited by J. Matthew Gallman and Gary W. Gallagher), which explores iconic photographs from the Civil War, and Ren and Helen Davis’ Landscapes for the People, a beautifully illustrated detective story about the first official photographer for the National Parks Service, have done very well for us. It is important to us—and I would say that trendwise this is true of most university presses—to publish books that engage the public sphere, beyond the academy, and that dispel the myth that intellectualism is out of touch. I am also particularly interested in further developing our multidisciplinary list on the global South, extending toward the Caribbean, Central America, and western Africa.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
University presses contribute to the global conversation by publishing peer-reviewed, high-quality scholarship, and they increasingly seek to make it as accessible and discoverable as possible. To that end, many presses are partnering with research libraries, digital humanities centers, think tanks, and other like-minded groups to pilot open access, digital humanities, platform-driven iterative content, and other evolving models. The Mellon Foundation has greatly influenced our collective ability to experiment in these sandboxes, having funded a number of forward-thinking collaborative projects over the past year. On our campus, the university press is a partner in the Digital Humanities Lab, located with us in the Main Library. Unlike other types of publishers, university presses thrive on collaboration. While we are also competitive with regard to individual authors and projects, like any publisher, we are also stronger together when responding to the needs of our multiple audiences.
Lisa Bayer is director of the University of Georgia Press in Athens, home of REM, the B-52s, and Chef Hugh Acheson. She is a member of the board of directors of the Association of American University Presses. An Illinois native, she began her publishing career in 1989 as an intern at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where she studied English. Lisa has lived in five states while working at Penn State Press, Redleaf Press, Minnesota Historical Society Press, and the University of Illinois Press prior to coming to Georgia in 2012. She lives in Athens with her husband, two children, one dog, one cat, and 30,000 undergraduates. She acquires books in the areas of women’s history, creative nonfiction, and general trade, specializing in what her staff calls “director’s fiat.”